Follow me down Memory Lane, where they can’t find us.
I’m going to take you into Edgar Woods, the forest that grew right next to our neighborhood, right up against the playground. Woods and playground have been torn down, paved over, and made to be as if they never existed but in dreams. But in my memory they’re safe; the orcs can’t touch them there.
We turn off the main path to a crystal spring that bubbles up from clayey soil–cold water that everyone around here drinks, and I never heard of anyone getting sick from it. We are not very far into the woods; faintly, you can still hear the clink of horseshoes from the playground.
The spring feeds a little brook, and we’ll follow it along its left bank, deeper into the woods. On the right bank the ground is wet and swampy, with lots of skunk cabbage. There are frogs in the water. Here we have another path which will take us to a blue house that stands all alone in the woods, but we’re not going there today.
By and by the brook peters out, but the path continues. Now we can’t hear anything but birds and squirrels. It would seem strange, today, to be at any place where you can’t hear cars and trucks. But not here, not now.
Unexpectedly, the path breaks into a clearing. And there stands Hangman’s Tree, probably the biggest, tallest tree in the county. The other trees, and the underbrush, keep a respectful distance from it. It’s big and black and very, very high. Kid legend has it that this used to be the hanging tree for several towns.
If you can climb any distance up this tree, the view will take your breath away. If the air were clear enough, you might see your way to Spain. Micro-trucks on the highway, micro-boats on the river, the mirror-sheen on the water where the river widens into the bay–it’s easy to lose track of the time when you’re way up there.
Leading out of the clearing, through a stand of sticker-bushes–the whole woods is full of wild blackberries, all you can eat for free–is Soldier’s Path, a mysterious cinder path that will eventually lead you to a sweet little village which has been torn down and paved over for another highway. Other paths will take you out to a bamboo field that marks the boundary of Edgar Woods.
Come up with me, up into Hangman’s Tree, and together we can look for Portugal. Don’t worry about falling. It’s my memory landscape and I will undertake to keep you safe.
I think I want to stay up here for a while.